Do you remember being a kid, maybe from middle school on, and you felt swept up into a thought, action, or behavior that didn't feel quite right, yet you got onboard anyway? It's called peer pressure and it doesn't end when you graduate from high school! We get so caught up and worried that we'll be left out, on our own, and we crave connection so much, we lose sight of our principles. We're uneasy with the idea of disagreeing with what looks like "everyone else", so we go along, despite feeling a little queasy.
Sometimes, we just can't do it. We can't let an injustice pass us by or we can't let someone get hurt because of a misguided belief or misunderstanding. Sometimes, we have to summon up as much courage as we can to go against the tide. Sometimes we have to risk losing our place in our tribe because we just can't yield or submit to "what everyone else is doing".
The amazing thing is, when we speak up, do something different, maybe even get a little radical, something amazing often happens. It helps to jolt people out of their complacency. It opens up their creative thought process that had been on hold.
This week's Pleasure Peek from Albert Schweitzer (French-German philosopher, theologian and physician) was:
"Do something wonderful. People may imitate it"
"Be the inspiration. It gives others permission."
One time I was driving with my own children and some of their friends after a soccer game. From the back I heard them speaking unkindly about another child who was not with us. Everyone had something to contribute, in the same vein, after the first comment was made. I spoke up and gently, but firmly, said I wasn't allowing that to happen. I may have mentioned something positive about that person or at least offered up another way to look at the situation. I could sense the kids (all good-hearted souls) taking it in and realizing it was "ok" to change up their previous thinking. They had simply jumped on the bandwagon.
The only reason I was able to do this is because I had been blessed with the experience of having someone else speak up and help me see that I was just following the crowd, and not following my own inner concern and caring for another person or set of circumstances. Realizing that this person who defied convention was not being ousted, but rather opening up a new perspective for the rest of us gave me a new sense of bravery.
Other times I've watched someone set an example that did, in fact, cause others to be critical and want to exclude them. Instead of folding or being defeated, I observed them reaching an understanding that those people around them no longer supported them or allowed them to keep striving for their higher potential. In other words, they had to let go of the weight of others that wanted to hold them down in order to soar.
Sometimes it serves us to go along and stay with the pack. Sometimes we have to revolt, resist, and be a trendsetter for a different perspective. We might be surprised at how many eagerly follow along. They just needed a thumbs-up ... from you!